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Are knives with blades longer than 4" useless?

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by uneasy_rider, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. uneasy_rider

    uneasy_rider Well-Known Member

    Coolness factor aside, are blades longer than about 4" very useful for camping, hiking, and wood craft? I just got back from about a week camping and hiking in Yellowstone back country, and my big knife never left my sheath. For small jobs, my pocket knife or small fixed blade (blade about 3") did everything I needed, and for woodcutting I used a small saw or hatchet.

    What do you do with a blade >4" while camping and hiking?
  2. Goblin

    Goblin Well-Known Member

    The mountain men carried a 6" Green river knife for skinning and last ditch defense. I suspect that hasn't changed for most hunters today.
  3. CWL

    CWL Well-Known Member

    Most larger knives for use in the field are typically called "Camp knives" nowadays and are meant for use in and around camp for the larger chores which may come up. This distinguises them from smaller sheath knives carried on the body as well as from other large "fighter" blades which are carried for other purposes.

    I think that there is a place for Camp knives and similar "survival" knives which are useful for processing large amounts of wood/brush in a short amount of time such as in emergency fire & shelter preparations.

    Lastly, very large knives such as machetes and kukhris have uses depending on where you are at.
  4. TrapperReady

    TrapperReady Well-Known Member

    Useless? No.

    Necessary? No.

    For hunting and camping, I like a 5" fixed blade and use it for pretty much everything. However, I'd be fine using a 3" folder almost all of the time. Frankly, a 3.5" fixed blade and a small hatchet would be just about perfect for everything in the field.

    What I find is that using a "big" knife for "small" chores takes a little different technique. Just like using a "small" knife for "big"chores makes you use a different approach.
  5. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Useless? No

    Useful? Not usually if you're also carrying a 3-4" fixed blade knife.
  6. The Tourist

    The Tourist member

    You have to ask yourself how the knife is to be used.

    I'm a big ugly biker, but for the most part, an urban citizen. I can get along very nicely with a 1.5 inch Graham Stubby. I often use it in restaurants when given a poor quality steak knife.

    If I was going Sturgis, I would carry a Buck 110 on a belt sheath. One tool and you could use it for everything.

    If I was camping in a tent (and I never will again) I might carry a few things. One, would be an axe. I think it's more useful if you can conveniently carry it. If you're hiking, that's different.

    In a campfire knife, I'd look more to a Buck 102 or 105, although many people use the 119 and get along quite well.

    That all ends when Graham Brothers Knives releases their folder. When that happens, all other knives will look like flint arrowheads. I'm counting the days.
  7. wulfbyte

    wulfbyte Well-Known Member

    I think the case for the big knife is best made when you have only one knife, or when your other knives are small indeed.

    When I go out to the field, I bring along a variety of edged tools and choose what fits best for the job at hand. An axe, hatchet or small saw is just the thing for managing the firewood but I don't keep any of those in my pocket or on my hip.

    I keep a couple of slip joints in my pocket (a Case medium stockman or a Case peanut along with a Great Eastern Cutlery scout #73) and a RAT 7 on my hip. Should I look up and find myself alone and unsure of where I am or how to get back to where I know where things are, I would rather have a big knife with me than just a small, or no knife, and all my other tools back at camp. Granted I could survive with just the Case peanut, but it would be a lot easier with the RAT 7 along.

    When I'm not in the woods, I carry a slipjoint or two and a Benchmade 730 or 710, but that's another story.
  8. Carl Levitian

    Carl Levitian member

    Not totaly useless.

    I carried a big blade when I was a young buck full of vinigar, but in reality, never used it for anything I couldn't do with a smaller lighter blade. I eventually settled on a Buck 102 woodsman for almost all of my woods knife chores. Since I always had a sak on me, it was all the knife I needed. To this day, after a bit more than 50 years of backpacking, canoe and motorcycle camping, and traveling all over, I don't feel the need for a big knife. But I'm on my second buck Woodsman.

    I do love folding saws though, including the ones from Gerber Fiskars with the sliding blades, and Opinel. Right tool for the right job. A few onces of folding saw will go through a thick limb way faster and safer than a big knife, and if its a real cold day and one is chopping with the big knife and hits a knot, you're gonna break that knife. Sooner or later. If that big knife is the only cutting tool you have, why risk it?

    Even the old mountain men and the long rifles before them, while they had a long Green River butcher knife they also had a 'hawk for the chopping.

    Right tool for the job.
  9. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator

    similar thoughts, have a beautiful 5 inch bowie made by EDGE, STAMPED SOLIGEN STEEL , bought it in 1964 . took it to the Nam with me where it saw a lot of use. since then it goes hunting but doesnt get used as much as my 3 and 4 inch fixed and folder.
    and lately my edc has been a MooreMaker 3 inch folder
  10. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Yes. Send your overlong and useless blades to me. PM for address. :D

    In all seriousness, I have used knives up to 19.5" OAL. I like a small, medium, and large blade. In a pinch, just the medium, or just the large and small blades would work. Hatchet can substitute for large blade, depending on preference.

  11. Eleven Mike

    Eleven Mike Well-Known Member

    Climate and surroundings may be a factor.

    Machetes seem to be de rigueur for jungle areas.

    If you take a survival course at Boulder Outdoor Survival School in Utah, you will learn of the fame of the four-inch Frost's Mora. If you take the winter course that they offer in some frozen portion of Idaho, you will hear the praises of the "camp knife." That means a big, heavy knife, in case you didn't know.

    I don't know why that is.
  12. Boats

    Boats member

    Mostly useless.

    How the steroidal machete gained any appeal outside of the jungle is a mystery that a book could be written about.

    Doesn't work well as a knife.
    Can't beat the production of a decent axe.
    Is next to useless on frozen wood and/or knotty stuff of any diameter.
    Not as safe as a saw or in most cases as light.
    A fire hardened stick is a more versatile "weapon."
    A decent four-six inch knife can produce poles for shelters or firewood nearly as fast using proper techniques.

    I guess I just don't get putting that many eggs (dollars) into such a limited basket.

    A real machete is a cheap stamped out piece of spring steel.
  13. Eleven Mike

    Eleven Mike Well-Known Member

    I don't know what the deal is with machetes, either. I still have a couple of machetes and two kukris, though. :)
  14. Dave P

    Dave P Well-Known Member

    Yes. Send them to me.

  15. Valkman

    Valkman Well-Known Member

    Hey! Quit using the same prop as me!


    Something about a 44 Mag that makes it great with a knife! :)

    I hope all these Fighters and Super Camps aren't useless - I sure am making a lot of them! :)
  16. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

  17. Limeyfellow

    Limeyfellow Well-Known Member

    I use my kurkri from time to time, but it become more a garden knife for keeping the vines and saplings under control, some light cutting when I am too lazy to walk back for an axe or saw and occasionally for a bit of bushcraft. It makes a sharpened pole effortlessly, make a little wood furniture and so on. It is smaller and more handy than the machette, can handle tougher wood with the right stroke and nigh indestructable.

    However for most things I find a smaller knife more handy and rely on my Buck hunter or in a more urban location my Gerber 600 multitool has been more useful than anything else.
  18. Dave P

    Dave P Well-Known Member

    Hey -- It was my idea!! One of these days Don, we'll get together and you can show me some knife making tips -- got my eye on a big baldor motor ...

  19. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    About the only thing I use a big blade for is picking it up and looking at it. If I want to chop, I'll use an axe. If I want to saw, I'll use a saw. etc...

    Okay, now what are they really used for? Mostly chopping. In a survival situation, it is a one blade for all purposes. For defensive purposes, they give you a longer reach (like a sword). I find a large blade cumbersome for hunting chores and almost dangerous if you're gutting a deer. I use smaller blades for almost everything. I do keep a 12 " machete in my truck for chopping should the need arise. I consider a blade "large" if it is over 6" in length in case you wondered.

    The fact is a moderate sized (hand sized) pocket knife will handle 90% of what you use a knife for. A 3-4" fixed blade will handle most chores as well. Just depends on what you like. I carry both in the field. Sometimes even carry a large bladed knife, but rarely use it.

    That does not mean I dislike large blades. I buy those too.
  20. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    I like kukuris/kukris/kukhris because they have the chopping ability of a small ax, but can also cut lighter brush well.

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